Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass Dissenters stage demonstration at Raytheon networking event

“[Students] are entitled to hear our information about Raytheon that they are not telling everybody”
Judith Gibson-Okunieff

Approximately 45 University of Massachusetts Dissenters filled an Integrative Learning Center classroom at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, while two representatives from Raytheon Technology presented internship and full-time job information to prospective engineering students.

As the Raytheon employees continued the presentation, UMass Dissenters began to raise their hands and ask questions, many targeted towards the negative actions the weapons manufacturer has committed and chooses not to include in their slideshows.

The Dean of Engineering at UMass, Sanjay Raman, who was present at the event, asked the protesters to quiet down and respect the students who were there to hear the presentation.

One Dissenter spoke back to Raman saying, “[students] are entitled to hear our information about Raytheon that they are not telling everybody,”

This is not the first protest or demonstration the Dissenters have held to end UMass’ involvement with Raytheon. Last year, they presented a petition to the Isenberg School of Management at UMass and held protests urging the university to stop letting Raytheon come to career fairs and networking events.

“Raytheon and UMass have been really interconnected for decades at this point and were not the first movement or group on campus that has tried to explain to the university why there should be absolutely no ties with our university and Raytheon,” Arsema Kifle, a junior sociology major at UMass and current UMass Dissenter, said.

Raytheon Technology, an Aerospace and Defense company, has a long-standing history of controversial incidents such as mistreating workers by ordering them to misrepresent data and contributing to environmental destruction, by contaminating drinking water with harmful chemicals.

“We just want better options for the students and specifically the engineering students and the business school and the school of computer science because they’re the ones most entangled with Raytheon,” Kifle said.

Many engineering students who were there to give Raytheon their resumes and speak to the representatives were offput by the demonstration and spoke back to many Dissenters.

“I just want to say to the engineering students in here, we’re really not trying to come in here and do this to wreak your chances of getting a good job when you graduate college, we really are just trying to tell you that this university should give you better opportunities than Raytheon” Kifle said during the demonstration.

Raman was not impressed by the protestors, stating, “I respect their right to protest and ability to speak their mind … but this is not the right place for this.”

The event ended quickly, and many Dissenters approached students to speak with them and hand them flyers of “Raytheon’s Resume” depicting some of the destructive things the company has done as well as their products.

One of the flyers said, “In 2019 a Raytheon Pathway bomb used during an airstrike [killed] six civilians, three of them being children.”

This demonstration was the first of the semester for the Dissenters, and many in the group are planning on more to increase pressure on UMass and on Raytheon.

“If we got Raytheon out of UMass and got UMass to say, ‘we’re committing to cutting ties with war profiteers, cutting ties with Raytheon,’ that could have a huge effect on things,” Toby Paperno a junior at UMass studying social thought and political economy, said.

“[Dissenters] can set a precedent for other universities,” Paperno said. “If we all cut our partnerships with Raytheon or these big war profiters, where are they going to get their engineers from?”

Paperno, like many in the group, wishes to “be the common sense” to the students and enlighten them about the companies that might not be transparent to students.

“I want to change the culture of engineering to be focused less on profit and companies and more specifically [less focused on] weapons manufacturers,” Leo Narbonne, a senior at UMass studying mechanical engineering, said. “Give engineers more opportunities to do things that help people.”

“I genuinely do believe what we’re doing matters, and you have to start somewhere,” Paperno said.

Alexandra Hill can be reached at [email protected].

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